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NHTSA — Power Train: Transfer Case (4-Wheel Drive) Problems

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
20,956 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Oldsmobile Bravada drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Oldsmobile Bravada Owner Comments

problem #12

Mar 072008

Bravada 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,103 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Transmission and all-wheel drive problem when beginning to move, the car jerks 3 or 4 times and there is a metal clinking noise under the front. The all-wheel drive fails to engage. There is also a problem when turning the wheel sharply at reduced speeds. The car will jerk and there is a weird noise. I just took my car in and this repair is going to cost between $2000 - $4000 dollars.

- Cedar, MI, USA

problem #11

Feb 202007

Bravada 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada. While making a left turn at approximately 5 mph under normal conditions, the vehicle switched from two wheel drive to four wheel drive. The vehicle came to a complete stop. This type of failure is called a crow hop. The contact had to accelerate in order for the vehicle to drive again. While making another turn, the four wheel drive locked. Each time the failure occurred, the vehicle would not move. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they changed the differential fluid, but that did not correct the failure. Through a service bulletin issued by the manufacturer, the contact discovered that the encoder sensor from the transfer case needed to be replaced and the tcm sensor needed to be reprogrammed. The current and failure mileages were 40,000.

- Greendale, WI, USA

problem #10

Sep 102005

Bravada 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
I have had my 2002 Bravada in the shop numerous times for the locking of my AWD. The fluid was changed in the transfer case (no help), the module was replaced (no help) and now the whole transfer case is being replaced. The cost is between 1500 and 2000! the vehicle has 80K miles. This is a very serious issue (and it appears that GM is aware of problems-based on tsb's online) especially in northern climates with snow. The control of the vehicle, when turning is lost, as the particular wheel locks up. I also had my fan clutch break, separate from AWD problem.

- Lockport, NY, USA

problem #9

Dec 102004

Bravada 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

All wheel drive does not engage properly under icy road conditions. Vehicle shifts in and out of 4 wheel drive, causing vehicle to fishtail. There would be a great risk of loss of control at higher speeds than 35 mph, such as on freeways, under such conditions.

- Fargo, ND, USA

problem #8

Dec 102003

Bravada 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
All wheel drive failed (water in wiring harness caused loss of programming software). Dealer contacted GM and they downloaded software to reprogram the all wheel drive(transfer case). This software was not the original software installed in the vehicle when I purchased it. I was told that they could not go back to the original software. Ever since this incident the all wheel drive has not worked properly. Vehicle has excessive rear wheel slippage before front wheel drive will engage. I live in snow country and this is not a good thing. When you lose traction the rear end begins to fishtail before the front wheel drive engages and then this is a harsh not a seamless engagement that makes you almost lose control of vehicle. The same holds true when pulling into traffic from a stop, back end loses traction before front end engages this too is a hard engagement that really doesn't give you control of your vehicle. GM customer assistance was contacted and were unable to help with this problem. Vehicle has been brought back to dealer on numerous occasions for this problem. They have been in contact with GM about this and GM says there is nothing in the works to correct this. Since this problem occured I no longer feel safe driving this vehicle when conditions warrant the use of all wheel drive.

- Escanaba, MI, USA

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problem #7

Feb 052004

(reported on)

Bravada 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,109 miles
The 4WD stopped operating during inclement weather and caused the vehicle to fish-tail. The vehicle was taken to the dealer five times for this problem. The mechanic informed the consumer that there was no remedy for this problem. The vehicle had the tendency to spin wheels/fishtail and would slide uncontrollably. The dealer informed the consumer that there was a problem with the all wheel drive and that when the fix is found, there may still be a posiibility that the problem will return. The service dealer was unable to duplicate the problem with the all wheel drive light. The boot was found blown while being lifted at the service dealers garage, the gauges (fuel and temperature) read "high." The consumer was told that the problem the AWD light was due to the encoder motor, there was a whine noise when the vehicle was in motion, the ground coroded and the transfer case actuator was inoperative do to the AWD, when the AWD light would come on the vehicle would shut off intermittently and the transfer case control module was replaced and the body control was updated, and the front pads were worn out and the rotors were rusted and pitted.

- Daisytown, PA, USA

problem #6

Jan 272004

(reported on)

Bravada 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The owner was driving 50 mph when one of the wheels that had smarttrak kicked in and spun the vehicle around. The vehicle collided with a camper parked on the street. The consumer was told by the dealership that there was no 4-wheel drive engaged. The same problem recurred three months later. There were no warning lights that warned the consumer of the smarttrak failure.

- Dickinson, ND, USA

problem #5

Nov 222003

Bravada 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,500 miles
The 2002 Bravada AWD system has serious safety problems.prior to the incident I was commenting to my wife that the vehicle was not handling well in snowy conditions. The all wheel drive engages only after a significant amount of rear tire spin followed by a lurch as the front tires kick in. The AWD lurches (engaging and dis-engaging many times as I tired to get under way at a stop light). The vehicle would easily fish tail without any erratic or provoked actions by the driver. When the accident happened I was turning right onto a 4 lane divided main street that was icy/snow packed  I was tip toeing around the corner when back tires spun which engaged the AWD with a lurch. This caused the vehicle to fish tail to the left, to the right and back to the left as the driver tried to save the vehicle from disaster. I reached a top speed of 17 mph (barely above idle). Each time the vehicle fish tailed it was made worse by the AWD system that lurched (again and again) upsetting the vehicle in its already precarious state. The vehicle slowed to 6 mph before impact into a light pole.I now have major safety concerns about drivability of this vehicle in slippery conditions. Given the lurching and tail happy nature of this AWD system I would rather not drive this vehicle in winter (snow/icy) conditions (which is one of the main reasons that I got this vehicle). I also feel that I cannot sell or trade this vehicle in for fear that the next owners will experience the same lurching and fish tailing conditions with the AWD but have more damaging/dangerous consequences. To have GM say that this vehicle is working within specifications is just plain insulting and is the biggest lie Ive ever heard. If anyone else has experienced these drivability problems please open a NHTSA case so we can get GM to fix or recall the vehicle.

- Shoreview, MN, USA

problem #4

Dec 292002

Bravada 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,504 miles
I reported to the dealer a problem with my '02 Bravada in which vehicle shuddering occurred while starting a turn from a stop. I was told the problem was in the all wheel drive (all wheel drive) transfer case and that Oldsmobile (GM) was attempting to solve the problem but had not yet (as of 9/17). In 12/02 all wheel drive was inoperative and a faulty transfer case shift control module was replaced on 12/09/02 restoring all wheel drive. On 12/18/02, the transfer case encoder motor position sensor was replaced. Calibration changes were also made to increase to delay in which front wheel engagement occurs and to disengage immediately. Problem: The calibration changes have led to a very unsafe condition when driving in wet and snow conditions particularly, driving the vehicle in these conditions is very treacherous and risky because significant rear wheel spin occurs (due to the increased delay) until the all wheel drive engages with a lurch. In slow traffic situations this leads to a series of convulsive, spasmodic lurches, with rear end fish tailing, as the all wheel drive engages and disengages uncontrollably. At more moderate speeds, approximately 20 mph, the fish tailing becomes exaggerated and leads to a spin out (fortunately, there was no other traffic). I have driven 4 wheel drive vehicles for 15 years, all wheel drive for 6 years and have never experienced anything like this. This is truly the most dangerous vehicle I have ever driven in snow, including 2 wheel drive. It cannot be driven safely in even the lightest snow condition. What is the point in owning an SUV if it cannot be safely driven under conditions in which you need it. Dealer service, Oldsmobile customer service, and tech service advisor all say the system is performing according to manufacturer specifications. I find that statement to be outrageous.

- Farmington, CT, USA

problem #3

Aug 012001

Bravada 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,250 miles
The all wheel drive has fallen twice in a year. Also stated that while driving on the snow the all wheel drive failed to respond which it caused an accident dealer was contacted and stated that the problem has been fix so there is nothing to worry about but consumer does not feel safe on the vehicle. Ts dealer checked and reset wheel alignment to specs. Inspected driveline and front end. Consumer also stated vehicle does not have steady idle. GM currently working on idle concern. Windshield moulding on passenger side coming off and replaced. Brake pedal fades at stop and cluck inside right rear door panel. No problem found. 4X4 light stayed on. 4WD switch replaced.

- Zephyr Cove, NV, USA

problem #2

Jul 012002

Bravada 4WD

  • miles
The vehicle operates like it is in 4 wheel drive mode at all times. Nlm

- Front Royal, VA, USA

problem #1

Oct 012004

Bravada 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The consumer stated that when making a right or left turn, extreme vibrations occurred in the steering wheel. The dealer stated the problem occurred due to a malfunction within the transfer case.

- Clarkston, MI, USA

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